Before we can transfer compassion to others, we have to understand it ourselves. We have to understand how to bring it into perspective and apply it. We live and will continue to live in a world rife with violence, forceful separation from those we love, and war. We are in a desperate need of others that can show how to be compassionate to the rest that cannot. We can do this one person at a time, starting with ourselves. We’re addicted to selfishness and mistrust, so how?
Compassion is described as being able to accurately put yourself into someone else’s shoes. It means taking on the same feelings another is having. Pain. Happiness. Struggle. All of it. Compassion as it’s listed in various definitions means, “to suffer, undergo or experience” the feelings someone else has. Essentially, you feel it as they feel it. The Golden Rule was a great practice in how this is transferred. The Golden Rule was treating others as we would want them to treat us. Compassion is hard wired into our brains, we just need to practice how to access it freely and without selfishness (which is also hard wired into our brain) getting in the way.
In order to be better and more practiced at being compassionate towards others, we have to accept this behavior will take time to build. Great ways to start this journey are to involve yourself into teachings and groups that regularly practice this type of behavior. Reading and studying groups that practice compassionate practices is a great place to start. Immersing yourself personally and intellectually with others that have mastered this skill is a great way to get started in being more compassionate.
How effective are you at being compassionate with yourself? This was hard for me to answer especially since I readily give my time and work to everyone else before giving anything to myself. I thought I was compassionate, but maybe I wasn’t. I had some questions to ask and answer:
- What makes my family’s culture compassionate?
- What is the criteria I practiced for compassionate business?
- What compassionate values do I practice?
I realized that my compassion for myself will be what limits the amount of compassion I can show others. Treating myself harshly as I do won’t help anyone. Because, I’ll use that same standard and practice I use on myself towards others. I needed to recognize and reorganize how I felt about myself including any positive qualities, talents, and things I’ve achieved. Tragedy had certainly put perspective on me over the years with the loss of both of my father’s, dear friends, and different jobs. Recognizing how I felt and dealt with those feelings in those situations becomes great wells I can go deep into for helping others when needed.
Opening your heart to others is a great skill in your work to become compassionate for others. But, if you cannot do this for yourself you won’t be able to do it effectively for others. Empathy can be a great tool to add as it will help you bring meaning or willingness to others that may be suffering. Helping others understand that they are not alone in their pain can help them do something with it and move towards a solution in getting out of it. Mindfulness is another. Living more fully in our present situations and that of others will help us direct our attention to more freeing and compassionate thoughts. That friend, co-worker, or family member will need someone that can remain unbiased and present during their pain to fully help them to achieve more compassionate thoughts.
Lastly, the practicing of small acts of kindness that may seem insignificant to you, can be huge for others. They have a way of bringing a lasting impact that you or they can remember and call on when the time is needed to find strength to pull through a negative experience. We don’t realize how little we know about someone until we impact them with one simple act of kindness. A thank you note. A hug. A few words of encouragement. They can all matter in the right place at the right time. Being again, self-aware and present will ensure you know exactly when that time will be and what will be relevant for the act to have a lasting impact.
The net, net here is we need to expand our own understanding of compassion, choose learning time or groups to learn from others what compassion could look/be like in real time, and find small ways to extend ourselves towards others in good faith. Being present and aware of our opportunities to do these things, will give us plenty of opportunities to live more compassionately. That moment of recognition in what you can see in yourself and in your own pain as it happens in others will change you. If you let it. Let’s take your enemies as a challenge for the rest of this week. Is there any room for you to consider the very pain they are in, may be of your own doing?
Compassion has to be learned but it’s something we call share in. We have to put in a little work to make it come to life and connect us. In doing so, this world and life can be a little more bearable with every person that learns to practice it better.
Here’s to August a new month and new opportunity to try something different. Hope you’re week has been solid so far. Appreciate your views!